CSCC Seymour Selected For National Study On Rural Community Colleges

Friday, November 27, 2020 - by Don Foley, Cleveland State Community College
Cleveland State Community College President Dr. Bill Seymour is one of 26 leaders in higher education to be selected for the national rural community college study
Cleveland State Community College President Dr. Bill Seymour is one of 26 leaders in higher education to be selected for the national rural community college study
Over the last several years Cleveland State Community College has been successful on several fronts. These include historic improvement to facilities, significant growth in student success and graduation rates, and strengthened engagement throughout its five-county service area. The college has received national attention for their work from the American Association of Community Colleges, Community College Research Center, and the Center for Community College Student Engagement.
 
Under Cleveland State’s new Vision 2025 Plan, the college is seeking more in-depth methods to promote the success of area residents as well as workforce development.
One focus area is building a stronger community of equity and inclusion.
 
A second focus area is to better serve financially underserved populations in our region. Often these individuals reside in the more rural sections of our service area. A new opportunity will help Cleveland State become better prepared to serve its rural communities.
 
CSCC President Dr. Bill Seymour has been selected to contribute to a national study focused on rural community colleges and the populations they serve. Dr. Seymour is one of 26 higher education leaders from across the US to engage in a Rural Community College Leader Learning Community about issues and challenges faced by rural, underserved populations.
 
The study is funded by the Ascendium Foundation and coordinated by the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement.  The learning community will hold a series of 8-9 convenings over the coming year.  They intend to produce a series of briefs on key topics intended to enhance the awareness of community college leaders, state officials, and all higher education stakeholders about practices that will encourage greater enrollment at rural community colleges and enhance student success and completion rates.

“I’m very pleased to be selected for this important project,” said Dr. Seymour. “Not only will this strengthen the role of rural community colleges across the United States, it will allow me to bring creative new ideas back to the Cleveland State service area.”  Dr. Seymour says he is particularly interested in how community colleges can attract more individuals who might believe “College is not for me.”
 
For example, Meigs County Schools have a graduation success rate of 98.3 percent. However, the data shows that only 18.7 percent of adults there obtain an Associate Degree; half of the State average (according to THEC 2020 County Education Profile).

This example suggests that there are many individuals who do not take advantage of the accessible and affordable education available to them. Dr. Seymour said, “I hope to learn much more about the reasons why our neighbors from rural and/or financially-challenged areas choose not to seek additional training after high-school.” He says, “Imagine the economic boost our communities could enjoy if we engage people who otherwise would not normally seek additional education.
 
Given the timing of the study the learning community will also examine the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on rural communities as it relates to higher education and workforce development. Community College play a special role in connecting individuals to better employment and supporting the needs of business and industry for skilled workers. 

“The pandemic in many ways hit our rural areas harder that anyone in terms of jobs and income,” added Dr. Seymour. “Cleveland State wants to provide opportunities for those hurt by the pandemic to gain a brighter future.”

For more information on Cleveland State Community College, call 423-472-7141 or visit the college at ClevelandStateCC.edu. Students are currently enrolled online and on-campus through the CSCC main campus in Cleveland, as well as CSCC’s Athens Center in Athens and Monroe County Center in Vonore. 

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